England set off on the long
road to Brazil at sprinting pace with an emphatic 5-0 defeat of
Moldova in their opening World Cup qualifier on Friday.
Frank Lampard's penalty after three minutes silenced the
crowd and England had their first three Group H points in the
bag before half-time with Lampard heading a second and Jermain
Defoe's shot underlining the gulf in class between the sides.
England's tempo dropped after the break as Moldova enjoyed a
little more of the ball but the hosts conceded twice more late
on as James Milner and Leighton Baines scored their first goals
for their country.
Roy Hodgson's side will expect a tougher task against Euro
2012 co-hosts Ukraine at Wembley on Tuesday but the manner of
their opening victory, albeit against lightweight opposition,
will provide grounds for optimism for the qualifying campaign.
"The key was the start," Lampard, whose opener was England's
100th penalty in international football, told ITV Sport.
"It can be tough coming to places like this and we were
expected to win. But the way we started showed our intentions
tonight and we were comfortable at half-time."
England enjoyed the perfect start when Moldova's Simion
Bulgaru inadvertently blocked Manchester United midfielder Tom
Cleverley's shot with his flailing arm and Lampard stepped up to
bury his spot-kick low into the corner.
The midfielder showed his scoring instincts again after 29
minutes, collecting his 25th England goal when he guided a firm
header beyond Moldova keeper Stanislav Namasco from Glen
Johnson's inviting cross.
Three minutes later Defoe, earning his 50th cap in a rare
start, lashed a shot past Namasco as England threatened to run
riot in the Moldovan capital.
The hosts enjoyed a few attacking flurries in the second
half as Hodgson substituted impressive Arsenal teenager Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain and skipper Steven Gerrard but England still
finished with a flourish.
Milner swept a shot past Namasco to make it 4-0 and Baines,
deputising at left-back for the injured Ashley Cole, saw his
powerful free-kick loop off the defensive wall and into the net.
The only slight worry for Hodgson was the sight of John
Terry limping off near the end with an ankle injury.
"My only concern is the injury to John Terry," Hodgson said.
"I don't think it's a very serious injury, but Tuesday is very
close. I will have to wait and see what the doctors tell me."
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